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White light, white heat © Robert Sommers 2017

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Bolsa Chica


Ken asked me weeks ago if I was interested in seeing one of his favorite singers, Alice Wallace and her band, perform up in Orange County and do a little birding at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach.

At 1449 acres, Bolsa Chica is the largest salt water marsh between Monterey and Tijuana on the California coast.

I had never been there before so I said yes.

Since I'm not much of a drinker and pretty much hate crowds I grudgingly assented on the post birding activities, I could always sleep in the car if the music or scene was really bad.

But I watched one of her YouTube videos yesterday morning and she was pretty darn good so what the hell?

I'm a little worried, have had a scratchy throat for a few days and don't want to be real sick when I get on an airplane next week. I met him behind the Art Center at noon and after a fast chili cheeseburger at Chili Coast in Vista we started our quest.


After an uneventful ride into Orange County we arrived at the northernmost parking lot and visited the nice woman at the Interpretive Center. We devised a plan. I would hike to the south, stopping at the large palm grove where owls and other large birds were said to typically roost and Ken would drive to the south and set up a nikkor 200-400mm telephoto zoom he had rented and the heavy gimbal head and tripod.


Conditions were frankly less than optimal on this afternoon, a strong wind damping the appearance of some of the Reserve's inhabitants. And I have to be honest. I have birded allover our fair land and I have never seen so much trash and refuse littering a wetlands as I did yesterday in Bolsa Chica.


It reminded me very much of Bufadora in Baja. Sort of shocking to see the neglect and sheer volume of litter, especially on the northern banks. I could never imagine people in San Diego putting up with it at San Elijo or the people in Riverside thinking it acceptable at San Jacinto. But as we all know, Orange County people are a bit different.

For a supposed birder, I am real weak on shorebirds and gulls as well as many other types. This should be a good experience and opportunity to learn for me and it was.


I made my way to the tall stand of trees. An eponymous friend gracefully soared overhead. I saw several large nests in the palms.

I was pretty far removed, the trees protected by a large chain link enclosure, but did manage to espy these two juvenile blue herons high up in their nest in a phoenix canariensis.


I encountered many more birds in nests as I made my way around the perimeter. I was starting to really enjoy my afternoon.


Walking back along the trail I saw a mother coyote stop and give the look, very close to me, her large teats quite swollen. She darted under the fence and into the scrub, where her pups were obviously safely hidden away.



A beautiful brown pelican played in the light chop to my left.

A snowy egret gracefully alighted on a nearby bank.

It was about this point in my walk that I saw my first tern.







Bolsa Chica is one of the largest tern breeding grounds anywhere and these guys are just magnificent. Fast, agile and beautiful.

There are many different terns, Royal, Caspian, Elegant, Least among others. I would be lying if I told you that I could tell them apart.


So very fast, not easy to shoot. I filled two cards with shots, will take a while to filter and process them all.


The sheer numbers of terns were astounding, at times a real boil.


Saw lots of different shorebirds, some geese, gulls, lbbs. A white faced ibis or two. Too much to even share right now.


I am going to assume that this is a doublecrested cormorant but it may be something completely different.










An eared grebe that was really pretty.

You can see how badly I need a new lens.☺


Mike and Liz joined us near the end. They found the geese. We all met afterwards at Don the Beachcomber for dinner and drinks. Felt a little guilty after the afternoon but had the duck anyway...

Alice Wallace is great, a yodeling chanteuse with a big voice and a bigger heart, not to mention a great band. She had a super guy on sax and clarinet last night but the whole band was terrific and I look forward to seeing her again.


Memorable day.

7 comments:

Sanoguy said...

Great afternoon and evening. Alice is really good as I'd her band. The horn guy made it really great! YUGE!

Anonymous said...

I know I've said it before relating to Trump, but it can be superimposed over all bad people and entities....

Fuck Expedia with all the fuck you can possibly fuck them with. If it's possible to fuck them with more fuck than that, then that's how much you should fuck them.

Keeping my best thoughts for Buzz. True.

Also, Bolsa Chica is a place I'd forgotten about. You are truly a fine photographer. I'm just a chimp with a smartphone

Peace

Max Hall said...

Those baby blues look super alert. So much variety birds. You would think the families with the nice location on the edge of the wetland would show some concern and become stewards of that area by organizing a clean up. You deserve that new lens.

Lena said...

How could you... Eat duck!?

Blue Heron said...

I don't know. I just had a gander for it.

island guy said...

You should eat crow for that one 🙄🙄🙄

Tried to ID the bird whose picture is before the shots of the geese. Was that a white faced ibis? Glossy faced ibis? Don't remember having noticed them while in that area. I would consider seeing multiple bobcats as pretty amazing. Glad it wasn't a puma?

Blue Heron said...

The bird before the geese is indeed a white faced ibis, the only ibis we see around these parts. Thanks for checking in.

Robert